Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread - Proverbs 30:8

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Living Beyond Ourselves

As a parent, one of the things I hope to teach my children is to think of others and give of themselves to others.

One of the things I remember from my childhood is our special friend, Mary, who lived in the local nursing home. Mary was not related to us by blood, but she became an adopted family member. In addition to us visiting her regularly, she joined us for every family gathering ~ birthday celebrations and holidays. She loved Baskin Robbins ice cream and we would often take her a treat, while she told us stories from her days as a chef at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

When I left home and went to college, I called a local nursing home and asked them to introduce me to someone who could teach me how to knit. Then I began taking my violin so I could share my music with the residents.

I am so thankful for my parent's efforts to teach me to live beyond myself. In an effort to pass on this same legacy to my own children, I have begun taking them to nursing homes.

Have you ever walked through a nursing home with a child? Young children are like magnets to the older generation. Smiles appear, hands reach out in an effort to connect with the little ones.

My own grandma now lives in a nursing home. Unfortunately we live thousands of miles away and do not get to visit her regularly. Thankfully when we do visit, my children are eager to go and not one bit timid or shy about walking through a crowd of wheelchairs.

Currently we visit a local Alzheimer's and dementia care facility once a month. We take our violins and share our music. We drag friends and other violin students along to join us whenever possible. It is a mighty proud mama moment to watch my daughters share their music with others.

You don't have to play an instrument to make this happen. I have a friend who heads up an intergenerational story time at a local senior home. She takes kids and books, and sits down with a group of seniors for stories.

Here's a video clip of my oldest daughter playing for the seniors.

How are you reaching out to others?


  1. I don't feel like we do enough reaching out but I am working on it. I have been trying to bless people with homemade food over the last month. I love cooking and baking and it's something that isn't too expensive or time consuming at this time in our lives. I would like to find ways for my family to reach out more. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Sarah,
    Cooking and homemade food is a wonderful way to reach out. I don't do this often enough. I used to blame it on not knowing anyone, but we've been here 2 years now, so that excuse is lame.

    I was sick a couple months ago and canceled my viola lesson. My student lives in another state (we live near the border) but they still brought me dinner that night. I felt so loved and blessed!

  3. Jill, thanks for posting this reminder. We are part of a LIFE group at LSCC that has done things like this as a group. We have not been to a nursing home yet, and I was pretty interested in taking Everett. He has an absolute extroverted personality and I think he would be a blessing to the residents. Do you have any tips on getting started? Would it be a good idea to call ahead and ask what a good time would be? We aren't particularly musically inclined or anything, but I like the storytime idea. :) Kari

  4. Kari,

    Calling ahead is a great idea. I don't think they would turn you away if you just showed up, but some homes have certain "activity" hours and by letting them know what you have in mind, they would be prepared to have residents attend.

    I've been to the story time that my friend heads up and often they follow it up with a craft - so that's another idea. I can also imagine that if you showed up with coloring pages and colored pencils, the residents would enjoy that as well. Who doesn't like to get lost in coloring? There are some beautiful, more adult-friendly coloring books that I'm thinking of (Ruth Heller, Dover)

    I'm sure the residents would LOVE Everett!

  5. Jill, I'm so glad I popped over to comments. I was going to ask for ideas on how to interact with a small baby, but I love Sarah's idea on baked goods. I love to bake and as Oliver gets a little older, it would be fun to make cookies and pass them around. We are still working on making friends here so it'd just be us for now. Thank you for blogging about this again!